Blunt Lyrics: 609 Films releases Bob Marley and the Wailers Capital Session on CD / DVD
Recorded in 1973 and lost for almost 50 years, The momentous session of Bob Marley and the Wailers The 609 Films CD / DVD Combo Pack captured the group as they were starting to make a name for themselves in the United States.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Bob Marley, his music, his life and his time were the things legends are made of now. Many of the political and social things he sang – as relevant today as they were then – were frowned upon, and that makes this CD / DVD an all the more important and enjoyable experience.
Filmed in front of a small group of selected people, with cameras rolling even during instrument installation / adjustment, this documentary feels like transported back in time to the event. The music is tight, but doesn’t have the quick beats, flashy stage drama, or screeching vocals that most performers of the day have now. Although there is a bit of whining, the vocals are mostly subdued in typical Marley fashion. The fact that their beats weren’t fast and their rebellious music were some of the reasons Joe Higgs claims they were fired from the Sly and the Family Stones tour they were on. But because of that, this session came about – which the attached booklet explains in more detail.
The CD is recorded and remastered in Dolby Digital Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 DTS Digital Surround Sound. From a musical point of view it is well done, with well defined instruments arranged on a fairly large soundstage. I admit, however, that I sometimes had a hard time understanding certain words, on first listening, but not because of the recording. Another reason Joe Higgs cites the fact that the American public does not receive them well is that they cannot understand their accents. It was this strong Jamaican accent that made some words difficult for me to understand too on first listen. The more I listened, however, the more I acclimated and the easier it became to understand the words.
Most of the songs in this set have a similar rhythm and familiar to the Wailers, but that doesn’t mean the songs all sound the same.
All here are excellent musicians – and in the case of classically trained keyboardist Earl Lindo. This is clearly evident when you sit down and listen, then watch the performance. It was also evident that Bob, and probably other members of the band, was quite high at the time of recording; you don’t have to take my word for it – at the start of the video you can see Bob, Peter Tosh and other members rolling and smoking big “cigarettes”. Hey, I’m not judging! It could have been tobacco, but looking at Bob’s glassy eyes as they played the first two songsâ¦ let’s just say I’ve never seen tobacco have this kind of effect before. (Marley was a big supporter of legalizing marijuana at the time.)
As the session continues, he settles down, begins to focus more and begins to play his guitar – sometimes even stopping in the middle of the song on the DVD (Midnight ravers) to collaborate with the other musicians on how they want to play the song, then start over.
This makes the video feel more like a rehearsal session. You can’t really understand what they’re saying, but once it’s done, they start the next song. For me, it made me feel like I was invited backstage.
As I mentioned, most of the songs in this set, if written today, would sound relevant given current cultural norms. However, at the time some of those songs and the opinions they contained were what got the band in trouble. You just haven’t sung to things like that. You just have to listen to the brutal lyrics of “You Can’t Blame the Youth” or hear the line from “Midnight Ravers” that goes. I can’t tell a woman from a man, to understand what I mean. And the poignant character of “Slave Driver” will take you by the heart.
âPut It Onâ is another song, which as with all of his songs, you not only feel that he sings from his heart, but on the DVD you can see it in his face.
The images on the DVD, which are 88 minutes long, sometimes appear both raw and polished with precise direction. In many ways, this is a lot like how some of Don Kirshner’s old rock concerts were filmed. (Yes, I know. I’m old, thank you very much.) Regardless of how it is viewed, there is no doubt that it is important to give the viewer / listener the chance to hear Bob Marley and The Wailers to what I would say is on the cusp of their greatness, if not necessarily of their popularity. Perhaps the best word to use here is âlegendâ.
The DVD and CD were crisp and not at all grainy or muddy, which I expected given its “lost” status; I thought it would be more archival in nature. I’m happy to say it’s not like that at all, as both have been restored and remastered wonderfully.
The DVD even has 2 alternate sockets, not included on the CD. Although sung in a very similar fashion, the alternate takes are mostly different in the way they are filmed.
As mentioned, the set also comes with a little booklet tucked into one of the sleeves and is a good informative tale of the session as well as Bob Marley and the Wailers.
As I listened (and more while I watched), I kept remembering how relatively new this all was to mainstream Americans when it was first made, and how Bob Marley and the Wailers (in all of their incarnations) are regarded and revered by fans and fellow musicians today, though they never really made it “huge” here. Just look at how many artists have covered some of their songs over the years.
Yes, the Wailers and this set are both legendary. Get it, listen to it, watch it, enjoy it. If you are a fan, you will appreciate it. If you’re new to their music, you’re up for something different and special, even if you don’t smoke.
Count “Wya” Lindo
- You can’t blame the youth
- Rastaman song
- Conqueror Duppy
- Burn and loot
- Midnight ravers
- Put it on
- Stop this train
- Perverse reggae
- Stir it up
- No more difficulty
- Stand up
- All of the above plus alternative versions of:
- Conqueror Duppy
- Rastaman song